Negombo and Kandy

Trip Start Jul 12, 2003
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26
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, November 15, 2003

After our 'holiday from our holiday' on Koh Chang, it was time to get back in travel mode again (no more laziness!). Arriving at the airport near Colombo in the middle of the night was much less scary than we envisaged. Thankfully we'd arranged for someone from a guesthouse in the nearby beach town of Negombo to pick us up, so we were whisked away without any problems. Straight away we realised how laidback Sri Lanka is and how friendly the people are. Considering they've endured a very recent 20 year civil war and are still experiencing political instability, they are more hospitable and generous (and smiley!) than people anywhere we've been so far!

We stayed for 2 nights in Negombo, which had a fairly dirty beach complete with shanty town looking shacks and baskets of drying fish everywhere. Apparently it was the place to be about 30 years ago but is now a bit faded and decrepit. We soon learnt to appreciate Sri Lankan food - beautiful vegetarian curries and rottis, walked around town a bit, saw old churches and the Dutch fort (and accidently wandered into the entrance of a prison!).

Next, we headed to Kandy which is set amongst hills with a beautiful lake in the centre of town. It's a cultural centre and attracts lots of tourists, so was quite a fun, interesting place to visit. We went to the famed Temple of the Tooth, which suffered some damage from a car bomb in 1998 and now has a huge security presence (you get body searched several times before entering). The temple apparently houses one of Buddha's teeth, taken from his funeral pyre. The tooth isn't actually on display, so it's hard not to be a little sceptical! It was a beautiful temple anyway, with monkeys running around outside and an elephant out the front.

Speaking of elephants, we also went to the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage just outside Kandy. There are 60 or so elephants there, ranging from cute babies to enormous adults. The only thing scarier than being so close to such enormous elephants was the abundance of tourists sporting bumbags and sandals with socks - aarrhh!!!! The elephants are fed, bathed and washed in the river and you can get as close to them as you like, so in that way it was much more exciting than seeing them in a zoo. They each have a keeper called a mahout who try and get 'tips' from you if you pose for a photo with one of their elephants. We're a bit over that kind of thing from Asia so luckily managed to avoid it! Feeding time seemed a little cruel as they were all chained up in a row, but when in the river they were more free to roll around by themselves.

Back in Kandy we spent time at 'The Pub' (yes, that's what it's called!), consumed many more curries, saw an enormous monitor lizard in the lake and met lots of interesting people. Overall, we're really impressed with Sri Lanka so far - it's a really beautiful, easygoing place and not really touristy compared to other places in Asia. The scenery, food and people are fantastic, and I don't think we're going to see enough in 3 or 4 weeks!
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